Top Joint Opposition spokesman Bandula Gunawardena, MP, yesterday assured that former President and Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa would vote for a no-faith motion against Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake over the UNPer’s alleged role in Feb 2015 and March 2016 Central Bank-Perpetual Treasuries bond scams.
Karunanayake, who had held the finance portfolio in President Maithripala Sirisena’s 100-day government, was given the same office following parliamentary polls in August 2015.
JO members, Bandula Gunawardena and MP Sisira Jayakody struggled to explain the failure on the part of the former President to sign the petition against Karunanayake in spite of being the outfit’s leader. Addressing the media at Punchi Borella, MP Gunawardena justified the former president’s action on the basis of him never backing no-faith motions against any member of parliament.
When the media repeatedly pointed out that the former president should have led the move against Karunanayake from the front, Gunawardena said the JO requested the leader to vote for the no-confidence motion.
Gunawardena said the JO urged the former president to use his valuable vote for the no-faith motion at a crucial time.
Thirty-one MPs signed the petition with JO parliamentary group leader Dinesh Gunawardena placing his signature first followed by Wimal Weerawansa, Kumara Welgama, Bandula Gunawardena and Keheliya Rambukwella. Among other signatories were former Premier Ratnasiri Wickremanayake’s son, Vidura, Namal Rajapaksa and Udaya Gammanpila, leader of Pivithuru Hela Urumaya.
The JO comprises about 52 members loyal to the former president.
Asked whether the former president had sought to distance himself from the move against Karunanayake as he was having a deal with the UNP, MP Gunawardena insisted that Rajapaksa would vote though he refrained from signing the petition.
MP Gunawardena repeatedly reiterated their confidence in the former president’s commitment to the JO’s cause when the media relentlessly questioned him on Rajapaksa declining to sign the petition. “You’ll be able to see what happens in parliament when members vote on the petition,” MP Gunawardena said, adding that the JO expected Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to pave the way for an early vote on the matter.
When The Island pointed out that MP Gunawardena himself had ruled out the possibility of no-faith motion against Karunanayake when the issue was raised at the same venue two weeks ago, the Colombo District MP said that the decision was made subsequently at a party leaders’ meeting.
Asked whether the JO would seek a secret vote to secure the backing of those UNPers reluctant to show their hand, MPs Gunawardena and Jayakody insisted that the JO preferred voting by name.
Gunawardena said that it would be Speaker Jayasuriya’s responsibility to ensure an early date for the debate on Karunanayake’s conduct.
The Colombo District MP said that some members of the UNP-SLFP coalition had assured the JO they would vote for the no-faith motion. While expressing confidence in the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) throwing its weight behind the no-faith motion, Gunawardena appreciated the assurance given by JVP heavyweight Lal Kantha of their support for the move.
When the media pointed out that JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake had chided the JO move by naming corrupt MPs among those who had signed the petition against Karunanayake, MP Gunawardena said that Dissanayake’s statement is irrelevant today. Would there be any use in criticizing the JVP for what it had done during the last insurgency in the late 80s. The JVP had given up its murderous strategies and was pursuing democratic agenda therefore there was no point in raking up the past.
Gunawardena said President Sirisena had asked Karunanayake to quit his ministerial portfolio. When The Island pointed out that Karunanayake had specifically denied the President having requested him to do so, the MP admitted that he wasn’t really aware of the latest developments.
MP Jayakody alleged that those who had benefited from bond scams would use funds at their disposal to influence members of parliament.
MPs Gunawardena and Jayakody didn’t respond to The Island query regarding the possibility of bond thieves seeking to influence JO members.
(Source: The Island – By Shamindra Ferdinando)